POTS being thrown, people being choked, spirits communicating – just a regular night of ghost hunting in Wisbech, writes Citizen reporter Emma Mason.
I jumped at the chance to go along on the ghost hunt when I was invited by self-confessed “sensitives” Gemma Matten, Katie Boughen and Sarah Howling, and my partner, Paul McGuire, was just as keen to come along.
So we went along, nervously excited about the investigation with Peterborough-based private investigators Ace Apparitions. Our destinations: the Rose and Crown Hotel, DK Reptiles and Gems & Gowns, all on Wisbech Market Place.
Rose and Crown owner Jonathan Davis, who came around with us in the hotel, believes he has seen “apparitions” in several places, as have other hotel staff.
The cellars were part of a vast underground network that allegedly ran from Wisbech to King’s Lynn and were used for transporting goods as well as smuggling. They are reported to be haunted, so it was our first port of call.
It wasn’t long before Katie said someone had pinched the back of her neck. Sure enough, there were two red marks and a fingernail indentation visible.
Lead investigator Alisha (Leesh) Williamson said she saw a shadow moving across the mouth of the tunnel where she was, even though there was no one in the room at the time, and Neil Kirk claimed to have been “choked”.
There were also some strange EMF (electro-magnetic frequency) readings picked up near the cellar entrance which could not be easily explained.
In the Trumpet Hall, a function room on the second floor, we tried the “human pendulum”, an exercise that involves standing in a circle, holding hands, and asking a spirit to make contact with one of the group. The theory is that the spirit pushes their chosen person one way for yes, the other for no.
As Leesh, who was not taking part, asked if there was anyone there, I got a sense of someone putting their knee in the middle of my back and my knees felt like they wanted to bend, leaning me forward.
However, the feeling was not strong and I felt a bit stupid, to be honest. Was it a spirit or was I just getting caught up in it?
I’ll never know, as the “spirit” was asked to move on and picked Sarah.
Through questioning, the “spirit” emerged to be a 17-year-old cobbler called John who had lived in the workhouse around 1813. He didn’t appear to realise he was dead and was looking for his parents. Leesh instructed him to move on and Sarah said he “faded away”.
Katie, from DK Reptiles, and Gemma, who runs Gems & Gowns, said they had encountered a spirit in the reptile shop cellar and they frequently ventured into Gemma’s cellar to communicate with the spirits there.
My group went to the reptile cellar first. There is allegedly the ghost of a man down there who likes one particular corner. Contrary to previous visits, the EMF meter did not pick up anything. However the spirit was allegedly “communicating” with both Sarah and Katie.
I didn’t know whether to smile or be worried when Katie said the woman-hating spirit liked “the little girl” – me, in other words.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation I ventured alone into the ghost’s room. I had to speak aloud to the spirit, to try to goad him into doing something. Surprising Paul and myself, I proceeded to insult the “man”.
A minute later, there was a clattering noise in the dark as some small plastic cups hit the ground near Paul’s feet, making us jump. Katie said the cups were stored around the corner and couldn’t have fallen.
Unfortunately, Gemma’s cellar was not as exciting. Despite the other group swearing they had experienced lots of activity, including the EMF meter reacting to questions, we didn’t get a sausage.
The cellar has a lot of history; you are greeted by the remains of an old chapel as you enter and Katie and Gemma can name at least three spirits down there – Jack, Estelle and a little girl called Molly.
Although I hadn’t experienced much personally over the evening, the team from Ace Apps were excited.
“It was brilliant,” Leesh said, and Gemma, Katie and Sarah seemed pleased too.
Whether the things that happened are the work of spirits or not is a matter of faith. I’m not really one for believing things on faith – I need cold, hard evidence. Unfortunately, ghost hunting in 2010 will not give me that evidence.
Leesh explained the technology now is not advanced enough to scientifically prove the existence of the paranormal, but data collected now could prove to be a breakthrough in years to come. So who knows – ghost hunters could be rolling up in Wisbech in 50 or 100 years to check out the Rose and Crown!